Don’t feed the Cowichan Valley wildlife: conservation service

“Feeding wildlife make them dependent on humans for their food and then they no longer know how to fend for themselves,” Price said.

Grace Price was alarmed when a number of overweight quail failed to gain altitude on their take off last week and broke their necks on a window on her home in Maple Bay.

She said the quail were almost double their regular size, and pointed a finger of blame on neighbours who are trying to be kind by feeding the birds during the cold winter months, but are actually not helping them at all.

Price said neighbours are also feeding local deer, and now the deer have become so accustomed to people feeding them that they are becoming aggressive when she tries to shoo them off her property.

She said she has lived in her neighbourhood for 15 years and this year is the worst she has seen for over feeding the wildlife.

“Feeding wildlife make them dependent on humans for their food and then they no longer know how to fend for themselves,” Price said.

“Feeding quail and deer causes unnatural weight problems, nasty aggressiveness and interferes with the balance of nature.”

Conservation officer Mark Kissinger agrees with Price.

He said feeding wildlife is not recommended at any time of year because the animals habituate themselves to humans and lose their natural fear of people.

As well, Kissinger said the metabolism of many local animal species slow down in the winter time as their food supplies dwindle, but by feeding them new foods that are high in protein, their metabolism shoots up.

“Their bodies have developed and evolved to deal with less food and low temperatures during the winter months, and providing them with this new food can cause diarrhoea and even death,” he said.

“Also, putting food out for these animals can also attract rats and raccoons, which in turn draws cougars and other predators to the area. It upsets the natural balance.”